9. Genesis of Death
“Taken to Gehenna, the fire always burns
Cast into the wasteland, eaten by the worms
Taken to the ash heap In lower Ge-hinnom,
In dreary misery, where idols once belonged
To die in isolation Abandoned by a nation
Slow asphyxiation, Soon to come the end
A curse unto god, to hang upon a tree
Such a hateful end, to ritually cease to be
I am not the son of god, You will become the man god
I am not the Messiah; You have become the priest king
My birth was never foretold, Covered in the dust of human remains”
And the black embrace of Acheron, Where grim visage’d faces, peer from the ashes of Lebanon, Where flesh becomes clay, from Syria to Yemen, and open graves adorn the shores of heaven,
This song is about the final moments of Jesus, alone, forsaken by his friends and humiliated. It is the leading scenario that takes us to the Resurrection. The title, Genesis of Death is basically a play on words meaning Death is only the beginning. I do not believe Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and that he died totally abandoned by his disciples. It details the finality of death, the frustration of a man slowly dying and with no hope of salvation.
The cover at depicts Jesus on an olive tree with a scruffy mutt chewing his toe. Considering the rubbish dump of Jerusalem burned day an night [That’s where Gehenna comes from] it is more than likely that scavengers roamed this stinking place and the Mount of Olives/ Gethsemane/ and Golgotha were all near by. This is the most famous scene in the while Gospel narrative an done that is full of contradictions and uncertainty.
The Death of Jesus
The life and times of Jesus are recorded in the four Gospels and the events leading up to and during his crucifixion are well documented.
The Gospels do however differ in there telling of the event and yet follow a similar pattern which reveals the source of all four Gospels has been altered through the passing of word of mouth until the written form was achieved.
Let us first look at the continuity of the Gospels in so much what they agree in all four depictions of the Passion.
- Judas is named as the person who betrayed Jesus to the mob [ Mob being the religious council and Jewish elders who were jealous/ angry at the popularity of Jesus, as well as his own interference with the religious establishment]
- The Last Supper where Jesus broke bread with his disciples knowing full well his imminent fate.
- The arrest of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and the bystander who cuts the ear off one of his accusers.
- Jesus and his disciples go to the Mount of Olives as they had done many times before.
- Jesus is taken before Pilate.
- The custom of releasing a prisoner is used to offer the people the choice between Barrabas [a brigand and political prisoner] and Jesus.
- Jesus taken to be executed at a place known as the skull [Golgotha]
- The two robbers who were crucified with Jesus.
- Joseph of Aramathea claiming the corpse of Jesus and placing him in a tomb.
The four Gospels also differ in there portrayal of the Passion.
- Jesus is taken to Herod after his audience with Pilate only to be returned to Pilate again. This is only mentioned on the Gospel of Luke.
- The crowning of thorns is only mentioned in Mathew and Mark.
- The fate of Judas is only mentioned in Mathew. He hung himself.
- The inscription placed on the Cross-of Jesus reads differently although all ending in ‘King of the Jews.
- At the point of death the last words of Jesus are different. In Mathew they read ‘My God, My God, Why has thou Forsaken Me. In Mark they are, ‘My God, My God, Why have you Deserted me. In Luke, ‘Father into your hands I commit my Spirit. And in John, ‘It is accomplished’.
- Only in John do we read of the infamous spear thrust to the side of Jesus.
The Crucifixion [in detail]
According to the gospels Jesus was crucified as follows.
Matthew : Jesus was stripped and made to wear a scarlet cloak. He was crowned with thorns and spat upon and the Roman guards took a red and struck him on the head. Jesus was led to a place called Golgotha [ the Latin being Calvary meaning ‘ a place of the skull’] where he was crucified. Jesus was offered wine mixed with gall [ a narcotic which sympathetic Jewish women used to offer the condemned to diminish their sufferings] In fact the gall was ‘myrrh’. After nine hours Jesus cried out ‘Eli, Eli, Lama sachthani? ‘ My God, My God, why have you deserted me? After which he died.
Mark : Again Jesus was crowned with thorns, spat upon and hit over the head with a reed. Again he was led to Golgotha and Crucified him in the third hour. Jesus is given a sponge soaked in vinegar to drink. On the ninth hour he said the same words cited in Matthew.
Luke: Jesus is mocked and beaten and again led to be crucified. There is no mention of the crown of thorns. On the cross, the soldiers offer Jesus vinegar. On the ninth hour he says ‘ Father into your hands I commit my spirit’ and breathed his last.
John : Jesus is scourged and crowned with thorns and slapped in the face. He bares his own cross to Golgotha and is crucified. On the cross Jesus said, ‘I am thirsty’. A jar of vinegar is soaked in a sponge and held to his mouth, .He says ‘It is Accomplished’ and gives up the spirit.
In this Gospel it is mentioned that to prevent the bodies remaining on the cross during the Sabbath, the Jews asked Pilate to break the legs of the victims to hasten death. This apparent cruel act is in fact an act of mercy known as the Crurifragium ‘ the breaking of legs’. When they came to break the legs of Jesus he was found to be already dead so they pierced his side with a lance, and immediately there came out blood and water. [this can medically be described as pericardial effusion and pneumatic effusion. The water mixed with blood can be the result of a cardiac rupture caused when the heat bursts under severe trauma.]
In Matthew, Mark and Luke a man called Simon from Cyrene was made to shoulder the cross as no doubt Jesus was too weak to do so.
In John Jesus is cited as carrying his own cross.
There are inconsistencies with his last words and the drinking of the sponge. Why the four Gospels contradict each other and yet are all seen as eyewitness accounts of the crucifixion is open to debate.
The name “Golgotha” is derived from the Aramaic word gulgulta. Matthew 27:33 and Mark 15:22 give its meaning as “place of the skull.” When Saint Jerome translated these verses into Latin, he used the Latin word for skull, calvaria, which was later converted into the English word Calvary.
I believe Jesus was crucified on an olive tree, probably in a garden in or near the Mount of Olives.
What Jesus endured.
To enable us to get a realistic picture of what a Crucifixion is I will explain this most ghastly form of death in more detail. It was invented by the Persians in 300-400B.C. It is arguably the most painful and torturous death ever invented by mankind. It was so painful that a new word had to be created to describe it. This is where the word ‘excruciating’, literally meaning ‘out of or from the cross’. [Although here the place of death is a tree]
Firstly Jesus was bound and beaten by the Romans. To be repeatedly punched in the face whilst bound would traumatize the bravest of men.
One can assume his face was severely disfigured by the time he was crowned with thorns.
He was also flogged. A typical flogging consisted of 39 lashes with a whip made up of multiple leather straps, 18-24 inches long that had small metal balls woven into them. There were also pieces of sharp metal, bone or glass attached to these straps.
The Jewish mercy of a lashing was 40 minus one, however the number really depended on the mood of the soldier administering the flogging.
After repeated blows the metal balls would bruise and eventually open the victims skin. The pieces of metal and bone would rip the skin. The effected area would be the back, buttocks and back of the legs. Some recorded accounts of Roman flogging describe the victim’s spine being exposed and the red meat of the muscles being shredded and go into a state of ‘uncontrollable quivering or trembling’. Sometimes the victim’s very bowels would be opened and most often blood vessels and veins would be crushed and severed.
All this led to a tremendous amount of blood loss and dehydration. The heartbeat will become rapid in order to try and pump more blood throughout the blood-starved body. This bodily reaction is obviously in vain and blood pressure will drop drastically. The kidneys shut down to save fluids for a now fluid starved system. Due to the loss of fluids the victim will thirst, can faint, and go into shock. Lastly the heartbeat becomes erratic and eventually can go into cardiac arrest. Many victims died before reaching the place of execution.
So, imagine now a man half beaten to death lifting up 75-100 IBs of crossbeam up hill, through the streets of Jerusalem and beyond the gates to the Mt of Olvies [where I suspect he was nailed to a tree]
Do not forget his back would have been shredded, so it is understandable someone else was asked to carry it. Once at the crucifixion site, the victim was nailed to the crossbeam, which was then hoisted up to an Olive tree. To even suggest Jesus or any other human being could carry a complete cross after what you have just read is pure nonsense. The cross beam is far more accurate [even if Simon of Cerene was asked to help with this burden, it was still never a full cross]
The spikes used were approximately 7-9 inches long and filed to a point. They would be driven through the wrist about an inch- below the palm of the hand. [or even through the fore arm] This was done because if driven into the palm the weight of the victim would be sufficient enough to rip the hand from the nail and then the victim would fall from the cross. The nail also placed pressure on or pierced the median nerve. This kind of pain can be described as the same as when you hit your ‘funny-bone’, only imagine that pain intensified in volume and duration. There would also be a permanent paralysis of the hand.
Next the legs would be flexed at a 45 degree angle and the feet were flexed downward at a 45 degree angle until they were parallel with the trunk of the tree. The feet would be driven though with another spike between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal bones. These tarsal bones would act as a brake for keeping the spike from ripping through the foot as the victim pushed against it.
Death on the tree is a slow death by asphyxiation. Due to the contradictions of the muscles in and about the chest region caused by bearing the weight of the body on out stretched arms, the victims body would be in an elevated state of perpetual inhalation. In order to be able to exhale the victim would have to push downward on his legs bearing the weight of his body against the nail in his feet to relieve the pressure on the arms and chest area. All the while scrapping his open back against the bark of the tree..
This process would continue until the victim became exhausted. Due to the loss of blood and hyperventilation the victim experiences severe dehydration. This is why in the victim can thirst.
Cross or tree? Here are 5 Scriptures that say distinctly that Jesus was nailed to a TREE
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a TREE (xulon)” (Acts 5:30).
“And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a TREE (xulon)” (Acts 10:39)
“And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the TREE (xulon), and laid him in a sepulchre” (Acts 13:30)
“Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a TREE (xulon)” (Galatians 3:13). (Deut. 21:23).
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the TREE (xulon), that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed “(I St. Peter 2:24).
From Tree to Tomb It is over. Jesus has breathed his last. Now his friends and disciples work quickly to see to an honorable burial before nightfall and the beginning of the Sabbath that begins Friday night at sundown. Why do the Gospel writers take time discussing Jesus’ burial? First, it is remarkable that Jesus, a condemned criminal, receives a proper burial at all. In the Roman world, condemned prisoners were typically denied burial. In a Jewish context, condemned men were probably buried ignominiously in a common grave (see Deuteronomy 21:22-23).
But more importantly, the Gospel writers are laying the groundwork to describe the amazing circumstances of the resurrection that is to take place Sunday morning. That is why the details of the burial of Jesus are so important.
Joseph of Arimathea is a highly-placed friend who cares deeply about Jesus’ burial. We don’t know if he has ever talked to Jesus one-on-one. John calls him a secret disciple (John 19:38). He goes immediately to Pilate and asks for Jesus’ body. He does it on behalf of Jesus, not to further his own career. Mark notes that “he went boldly” (Mark 15:43), using the Greek verb tolmao, “dare, be brave or bold enough; take upon oneself (to do something) Often, secret believers burrow deeper in a time of crisis, but sometimes they rise to the occasion to do what is required. John’s Gospel notes that Joseph was assisted by Nicodemus (John 19:39-40), a fellow member of the Sanhedrin who had previously come to Jesus by night (John 3:1-8). He, too, is ready to declare his allegiance to Jesus.
Joseph receives permission after Pilate determines that Jesus is actually dead, certified by the centurion in charge of the crucifixion detail (Mark 15:43-45). Then he goes personally to take care of the body. Let’s examine each step briefly.
First, he takes down the body. The Greek verb is kathaireo, “take down, pull down.”. The spikes are pulled out, the body is gently lifted onto a clean linen cloth (Greek sindon, Matthew 27:59), wrapped or folded in it (Greek entulisso), and carried to the nearby tomb. “… and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.” (23:53)
The tomb has been carefully prepared . It is not a natural cave, but one which has been “hewn in rock” (Greek laxeutos). It is found in a garden: “At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid” (John 19:41).
Such a tomb would have been fashioned by quarrying into the side of a rock face. Such a tomb might have included a forecourt before a cave, the mouth of which could be covered by a large, disk-shaped stone set in a groove cut in the rock beneath. The entrance would lead into the burial chamber with a stone step and central pit of sufficient height to allow persons to stand in order to prepare a corpse for internment on one of the stone benches carved into the rock along the sides of the chamber…. The body was placed on a sand-covered stone bench; after a twelve-month period of decomposition, the bones were collected and placed in an ossuary.
After preparing the body, Joseph and Nicodemus gently place Jesus’ body on one of the stone ledges in the tomb, roll a large stone in front of the door (Matthew 27:60b), and depart
The possibility of Jesus surviving a Crucifixion is very improbable. If he did, he would have more than likely died soon after. He was certainly placed in a tomb and that in normal circumstances would have been the end of his story.
The stories we hear of a bloodline of Christ surviving though the ages most notably documented in the intriguing book ‘The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail’ by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln, can only be possible through an existing family. Jesus therefore must have had children. This possibility is also a very likely scenario if we are still in the mind that Jesus was mortal and for that time period a Rabbi would have been at odds with the rest of the community if he were not married.
Whether the fact that Jesus sired children or not is not in debate here. The real question is could Jesus have survived a crucifixion? I would say no from the information given in the Gospels. I would say this thorn in the Roman and Jewish establishment’s side was removed in a process that consumed numerous other lives. Jesus was a real threat to the civil order [precarious as it no doubt was] and his end hanging from a tree was inevitable.
To a Christian’s point of view, the Crucifixion of Jesus is the ultimate suffering experience this Earth has ever seen. Jesus bore not just nails and crown of thorns, but first and foremost – our sins and our sicknesses. This is the pivotal act that manifests itself though the very heart of Christian faith. This wretched death, and to add cream to the pie, the Resurrection. To reconcile the Old Testament with this New [un-Jewish add on], the death of Jesus was absolutely necessary. Ever since Adam and Eve fell, there was a need for redemption of the whole human race. No animal sacrifice could do that, only the sinless son of God .
Christians also believe the Resurrection is the greatest thing that has ever happened to our world, after the fall of man. Man fell terribly, not deserving at all to be glorified by God, yet, God sent His Only begotten Son Jesus Christ to live on Earth as the Son of Man, to die on the Cross for our sins, sicknesses and failures, and then to rise on the third day by the Glory of the Father, thus defeating the power of Satan and evil as a whole, providing for us total victory over sin, sickness, poverty, fear, lack, depression, addiction, misery and every other thing of the devil. A strong statement and one that I find so silly it hurts just to envisage it. I wonder what the wandering Jesus of history would say to all this fuss?
The Resurrection – The resurrection of Christ is the single most necessary event to bind the whole spiritual life of Jesus together. Without it the Christian church is nothing. It has force fed this all powerful image into the minds of mankind through the centuries, spreading its warped view of life like a virus. This is the route all religious fervour must follow until it ultimately becomes the empty truths and primitive interpretations of the un-knowable they surely are.
The Gospels tell us Jesus was executed on the Cross [tree], his body taken down, and taken for burial as was customary. Three days later there was apparent sighting of Jesus implying that he had resurrected from the realms of the dead. The body had certainly disappeared and we must look at the Gospel narrative to find out what actually occurred.
We can at this point refute the ‘Jesus did not exist’ theory of, Professor G.A. Wells. So here we have a Jewish healer with no real notoriety outside his Galilean homeland, killed in Jerusalem for disturbing the peace [or for being a potential kindling for violence], and at this point the most crucial event in the Christian faith occurs. The Resurrection.
Josh Mcdowell states “I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, or it is the most fantastic fact of history?
In a New York Times article, Peter Steinfels cites the startling events that occurred three days after Jesus’ death: “Shortly after Jesus was executed, his followers were suddenly galvanized from a baffled and cowering group into people whose message about a living Jesus and a coming kingdom, preached at the risk of their lives, eventually changed an empire. Something happened. … But exactly what?” That’s the question we have to answer with an investigation into the facts.
There have been many theories advanced to explain the events surrounding the burial and apparent resurrection of Jesus.
- The women went to the wrong tomb
- Someone other than the disciples removed the corpse.
- The disciples removed the corpse.
- The disciples hallucinated their sightings of Jesus
- Jesus did not actually die on the cross
- Jesus really did rise from the sepulcher.
Christian apologists always cling to there own agenda when defending the resurrection. Without it their faith is diminished so whom can blame them. Here are the usual points these defenders of the faith elaborate on.
I shall give my opinion after each paragraph. My theory is, explained in detail later. But it concerns another secret entrance into the tomb other than the entrance that was sealed by a huge rock and guarded by Roman legionnaires.
The Burial The body of Jesus, in accordance with Jewish burial custom, was wrapped in a linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to form a gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body. After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb, an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance of the tomb. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by means of levers) against a tomb entrance. So the tomb is sealed and no one can get in or out.
A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to “prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb’s entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law. The Roman Guards would have certainly kept any possible grave robbers at bay. But they did not because the body had vanished anyway. So how did these hardy fighting men explain that? There may have been Jewish guards also, but that is irreverent. What is important is the body has vanished. Now, did it awaken from death, or was it taken?
But why bother to guard the tomb, if Jesus was to end up walking around afterwards anyway? The apologists just cannot accept this possible corpse theft or wrong tomb theory so we have guards and a giant stone to ensure the body has no means of escape. Hence, the corpse must have risen from death. But could the corpse have been removed via this other exit point?
But three days later the tomb was empty. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead. They reported that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days, showing Himself to them by many “infallible proofs.” Paul the apostle recounted that Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers at one time, the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote. So many security precautions were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ’s tomb that it becomes very difficult for critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from the dead.: Now here rests another pivotal part of the story. The disappearance of the corpse. Why so little fuss about his resurrection at the time? A few close friends and then 500 strangers thrown in for good measure. Surely History would be far richer to have thousands of witnesses to this remarkable event. But no, there is hearsay, Christian writings that confirm the resurrection and these are naturally bias. The apologists always try to cite historical non Christian writings to bolster any arguments. There are such attestations regarding Pontius Pilate and much of the geographical fixtures in the gospels. But there is no outside documentation of the resurrection. There was no huge outcry of such a resurrection in Jerusalem and the great news certainly never reached Rome until many years after.
The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity would be evident. All religious movements start somewhere, most filter away in time, some grow like wildfire. Its true the Disciples continued the work of Jesus, another variation of Judaism that had its many variants anyway. But this particular variance would burst into a whole new religion based on pure distortion of the truth.
The empty tomb was “too notorious to be denied.” Paul Althaus states that the resurrection “could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned.” And empty it may have been. But many religions have been spawned from far less a reason. To claim that the resurrection could not of been maintained as a fact in an age of supernatural
Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb. [No one disputes the empty tomb] Those resources range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the “Toledoth Jeshu.” Dr. Paul Maier calls this “positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence. In essence, this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then that fact is genuine.” The Toledoth Jeshu is a debatable medieval writing of dubious content. It has absolutely no relevance on the authenticity of the Resurrection as all post [supposedly resurrection] writings are.
Gamaliel, who was a member of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, put forth the suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God’s doing; he could not have done that if the tomb were still occupied, or if the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ’s body.
What really happened– Paul Maier observes that ” if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement.” To look upon the situation without any supernatural leanings there can be only certain options we can entertain as being true. Just because there is no outside evidence to disprove the empty tomb does not mean it was empty. But it is the corpse that is the key to the argument here.
These are the following,
- Jesus body was stolen
- Jesus was buried in another tomb
- Jesus was buried and his story fictionalized by the gospel writers.
Was the body stolen? Consider the theory that the body was stolen by the disciples while the guards slept. The depression and cowardice of the disciples provide a hard-hitting argument against their suddenly becoming so brave and daring as to face a detachment of soldiers at the tomb and steal the body. They were in no mood to attempt anything like that. But some of the disciples were zealots and remember they all virtually to a man died harrowing deaths for their faith. So we can count the main disciples as having no part in the conspiracy.
Some Christians would state ‘the theory that the Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ’s body is no more reasonable an explanation for the empty tomb than theft by the disciples. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was, why, when the disciples were preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem, they didn’t explain: “Wait! We moved the body, see, He didn’t rise from the grave”?
The stolen body theory is the most plausible of all the logical explanations. Jesus may have been buried in another tomb but what happened to the body in the real one? The story was certainly not made up. We must suppose Jesus was buried as the gospels suggest. We must also suppose the tomb was guarded and blocked.
Discovering the empty tomb There is a point not many scholars elaborate on and that is no one knows what happened to the body. In all four Gospels there is a slight alteration on the events.
In The Gospel Mathew Mary of Magdala and the other Mary went to visit the tomb and at once their was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled away the stone and sat on it. The guards were frightened and they were like dead men. The angel told the women Jesus was not in the tomb but had risen. We can take this story to be pure gloss on the original Mark version.
In The Gospel of Mark, Mary of Magdala and Mary, Mother of James, went to the tomb just as the sun was rising. When they got their, the stone had already been moved. On entering the tomb they saw a young man in white robe seated. He told them Jesus had risen and was not their. There is no mention of what happened to the guards.
In the Gospel of Luke, The women from Galilee went to the tomb and found the stone had been rolled away. On entering it was empty. Then two men in brilliant clothes suddenly appeared at their side. They are told Jesus has risen. Again, we are entering the supernatural here with these otherworldly figures in the tomb. Again, no mention of the Guards.
In the Gospel of John, Mary Magdala came to the tomb and saw that the stone was moved. She ran to Simon Peter and claimed ‘They had taken the Jesus from the Tomb’ they went into the tomb and found his linen clothes and assumed Jesus must have risen from the dead. No mention of the Guards here either.
So the guards are conveniently amiss in three of the gospels. There is no witness’s of any resurrection, no sightings of Jesus leaving the tomb. Just an empty burial chamber. In the Gospels, especially the synoptics, women play a central role as eyewitness at Jesus’ death, entombment, and in the discovery of the empty tomb. All three synoptics present them as eyewitnesses. But they also spoke of seeing Angels and that certainly makes their fanatical belief in God bias towards what they may or may not have seen.
The Guards and the vanishing corpse While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep. ‘If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble .”So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.” Matthew 28v11-15
The whole guard scenario is only found in Mathew so were they ever there?
After the discovery of the empty tomb, the Gospels indicate that Jesus made a series of appearances to the disciples. These include the appearance to the disciples in the upper room, where Thomas did not believe until he was invited to put his finger into the holes in Jesus’ hands and side. Why hands and not the wrist?
In popular depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus (possibly because in translations of John 20:25 the wounds are described as being “in his hands”), Jesus is shown with nails in his hands. But in Greek the word “χείρ”, usually translated as “hand”, referred to arm and hand together, and to denote the hand asdistinct from the arm some other word was added, as “ἄκρην οὔτασε χεῖρα” (he wounded the end of the χείρ, i.e., he wounded her hand).
A possibility is that the nails were inserted just above the wrist, between the two bones of the forearm (the radius and the ulna) An experiment that was the subject of a documentary on the National Geographic Channel‘s Quest For Truth: The Crucifixion,showed that a person can be suspended by the palm of the hand. Nailing the feet to the side of the cross relieves strain on the wrists by placing most of the weight on the lower body.
Another possibility, suggested by Frederick Zugibe, is that the nails may have been driven in at an angle, entering in the palm in the crease that delineates the bulky region at the base of the thumb, and exiting in the wrist, passing through the carpal tunnel. It seems there is no concrete evidence for either and yet I would lean towards the wrists as being the fixture points. This kind of uncertainty plagues the Gospels and many theories concerning many events collide, some stronger than others, but all additions of an ever increasing list of uncertainties and probabilities. My own assumptions included.
So if Jesus was dead as he most surely was. Who were his disciples seeing? Who removed the corpse/, and why? If we base the theory that the body was indeed stolen, then this must have been to remove it from the gaze of the authorities. To relocate the corpse and allow a private burial. I would suspect only a few knew of this plan, Joseph of Aramathea being one of them. Nicodemus the other.
Over 500 witnesses – Several very important factors are often overlooked when considering Christ’s post-resurrection appearances to individuals. The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ after that resurrection morning. One of the earliest records of Christ’s appearing after the resurrection is by Paul. This was a man who never even met Jesus, who’s conviction stems from a dream. If a religion can break away from its Jewish roots based on this illusory evidence, a Jewish cult can grow from an equally fragile resurrection scenario. The apostle appealed to his audience’s knowledge of the fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time. Says who, Paul?, the early Christian movement. There are no written testimonies to this fact. Just hearsay. Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. And? Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: “What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. If this occurred today maybe, but it occurs then and we have no evidence whatsoever to sustain this now. St. Paul says in effect, ‘If you do not believe me, you can ask them.’ How, they are all dead, no one did ask and make a long list of testimonies to the fact. Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago.” A delusional statement from a faith blind believer in the supernatural Let’s take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial, and place them in a courtroom. And how are we to do that? Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes, including cross-examination, you would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you would well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history. Yes I realize this and yet of what use is this now? We cannot prove this in a courtroom, it is all conjecture.
Hostile Witnesses – Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ’s appearances is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced. Over and over again, I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive after His death and burial only by His friends and followers. Using that argument, they attempt to water down the overwhelming impact of the multiple eyewitness accounts. But that line of reasoning is so pathetic it hardly deserves comment. No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of Christ. The facts show the exact opposite. Saul despised Christ and persecuted Christ’s followers. It was a life-shattering experience when Christ appeared to him. Although he was at the time not a disciple, he later became the apostle Paul, one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.
The argument that Christ’s appearances were only to followers is an argument for the most part from silence, and arguments from silence can be dangerous. It is equally possible that all to whom Jesus appeared became followers. No one acquainted with the facts can accurately say that Jesus appeared to just “an insignificant few.” On the assumption he was dead makes this very unlikely. I suggest all these later reports are additions to the facts. All of Paul’s writings are suspect and deliberate in their gentile persuasion.
Christians believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected in time and space by the supernatural power of God. The difficulties of belief may be great, but the problems inherent in unbelief present even greater difficulties. Rubbish. .
The Wrong Tomb – A theory propounded by Kirsopp Lake assumes that the women who reported that the body was missing had mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb. If so, then the disciples who went to check up on the women’s statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. We may be certain, however, that Jewish authorities, who asked for a Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus’ body from being stolen, would not have been mistaken about the location. Nor would the Roman guards, for they were there! If the resurrection-claim was merely because of a geographical mistake, the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb, thus effectively quenching for all time any rumor resurrection. He was not buried in the wrong tomb. One can sympathize with the apologist here.
Hallucinations – Another attempted explanation claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection were either illusions or hallucinations. Unsupported by the psychological principles governing the appearances of hallucinations, this theory also does not coincide with the historical situation. Again, where was the actual body, and why wasn’t it produced? Very unlikely.
The Swoon theory – Another theory, popularized by Venturini several centuries ago, is often quoted today. This is the swoon theory, which says that Jesus didn’t die; he merely fainted from exhaustion and loss of blood. Everyone thought Him dead, but later He resuscitated and the disciples thought it to be a resurrection. Skeptic David Friedrich Strauss–certainly no believer in the resurrection–gave the deathblow to any thought that Jesus revived from a swoon: “It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life, Jesus could not have survived the crucifixion. There have been men who have. But not the disturbing sequence of beatings, scourging and trauma this man went through. Death was his only end upon that tree,
Joseph of Aramathea The character of Joseph of Aramathea poses an intriguing question. Of what tomb did he have in mind? All four canonical Gospels tell us that Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus out of personal piety and secret discipleship. All that is known for certain concerning him is derived from the canonical Gospels. He was born at Arimathea — hence his surname — “a city of Judea” (Luke 23:51), which is very likely identical with Ramatha, the birthplace of the Prophet Samuel, although several scholars prefer to identify it with the town of Ramleh. He was a wealthy Israelite (Matthew 27:57), “a good and a just man” (Luke 23:50), “who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God” (Mark 15:43). He is also called by St. Mark and by St. Luke a bouleutes, literally, “a senator”, whereby is meant a member of the Sanhedrin or supreme council of the Jews. He was a disciple of Jesus, probably ever since Christ’s first preaching in Judea (John 2:23), but he did not declare himself as such “for fear of the Jews” (John 19:38). On account of this secret allegiance to Jesus, he did not consent to His condemnation by the Sanhedrin (Luke 23:51), and was most likely absent from the meeting which sentenced Jesus to death (cf. Mark 14:64).
The Crucifixion of Jesus quickened Joseph’s faith and love, and suggested to him that he should provide for Christ’s burial before the Sabbath began. Unmindful therefore of all personal danger, a danger which was indeed considerable under the circumstances, he boldly requested from Pilate the Body of Jesus, and was successful in his request (Mark 15:43-45). Once in possession of this sacred treasure, he — together with Nicodemus, whom his courage had likewise emboldened, and who brought abundant spices — wrapped up Christ’s Body in fine linen and grave bands, laid it in his own tomb, new and yet unused, and hewn out of a rock in a neighbouring garden, and withdrew after rolling a great stone to the opening of the sepulchre (Matthew 27:59, 60; Mark 15:46; Luke 23:53; John 19:38-42).Remember all his other disciples had apparently run away and hid. But not Joseph.
We can safely assume that the tomb may have been fit for more than one person. It was common for tombs to contain more than one corpse. Imagine if Joseph of Aramathea had hewn another entrance to this tomb. He would have had the time and the resources to do so. He may have had a few tombs and one that interconnected with the other. Then imagine the body or Jesus being placed within and the great stone maneuvered over the entrance. The Roman guards are out side and all is silent for three days. From the darkness of the tomb and a secret entrance the body of Jesus is taken and the exit point sealed. Now we have an empty tomb and in those ancient times it would not have been a question of where is the secret exit, but low and behold the body has vanished into thin air. The Resurrection would have been taken quite literally to have occurred.
Joseph also had an accomplice in Nicodemus. A prominent member of the Sanhedrin, and a man of wealth; lived in Jerusalem in the first century C.E. He is mentioned in John iii. 1-21, vii. 50, xix. 39. In the first of these passages he is represented as “a ruler of the Jews” who learned from Jesus what “rebirth by baptism” meant, as if that rabbinical term had been altogether unknown to him The second passage records how he made his visit to Jesus by night, in order that he might not be known as one of the latter’s disciples. In the third passage he and Joseph of Arimathea are described as having taken charge of the body of Jesus in order to give it decent burial. That the man brought into such prominence in the fourth Gospel must have been a well-known figure of Jewish society at the time is evident.
So we have two wealthy prominent members of society handling the burial of Jesus.
The only problem with this hypothesis is the sightings of Jesus post mortem. But remember even his close disciples and companions did not recognize him when he appeared. They were also bemused and shocked at his re emergence from the grave.
To non religious people the resurrection is inconceivable. Like Icarus flapping across the suns gaze or a man turning into a wolf under the full moons glare. So if I were to proposition the tomb having a secret exit, would it be deemed just as inconceivable?
If we look upon the events as non-supernatural then the following must be either fanciful additions to the story or extensions of the facts.
His brother James was already the head of his cult, and his teachings were still a bane to the authorities’ side. His legacy was assured without any resurrection claim. His teachings were imbued in James and his disciples, although they had lost their master. History would never have even known he existed at this point. He had live his life, died and was buried by a wealthy beneficiary. Then, mystery descended on the whole story. His body vanished and no one knows why? His followers say he rose from death and this version of events created the foundation for the Christian religion to follow. But it was no big deal at the time. No real fuss about this was recorded by anyone, and no written record appeared until aprox 40 years afterwards.
The whole unassailable pivotal moment of this whole debate is what happened to that corpse? I refute the claims of the resurrection, and this leaves us with only one real alternative. The body of Jesus was removed from the tomb via another exist point and re interred in a secret location. Now, for his post death sightings. We have seen how and to whom Jesus appeared. Some never recognized him at all. Was he death warmed up?, or someone else?, or were the sightings purely fictional? There are many fictional goings on in the Gospels, so we cannot discount any of the aforementioned theories. As Sherlock Holmes would say, when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth? And that must be the corpse was removed in secret.
The Myth theory We are told that myth takes many years to evolve. Myth is the Homerian tales, the Arthurian quests, Beowulf, and The Arabian Nights. All based on some fragment of fact, all stretched beyond the imagination. I have no doubt myth plays a part in the story of Jesus. He certainly existed. Religion can be born from virtual no reasonable basis. Christians hoot and bellow about the gospels authenticity and how so many witnesses make the resurrection a fact. But remember religions do not need witnesses to thrive. Here is how some of the more known religions came into being,
How religions can begin with one mans testimony and without witness conformation. Buddhism began when a wealthy eastern prince, Siddhartha Gautama, abandoned his family’s plush estate to search for the truth. After a nearly fatal immersion in asceticism, Gautama retreated to the “Middle Way,” studied with teachers of yoga and philosophy, and eventually settled beneath a Bodhi tree to “put himself into a trance, intent of discerning both the ultimate reality of all things and the final goal of existence
Islam is another religion rooted entirely in the experiences of one man, Muhammad, born in Mecca, Arabia around 570 C.E.. At the age of forty, Muhammad “had an experience in which a message somehow became present in his mind; and eventually he came to believe that this was a message from God.
The Mormons (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) report that their founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., had a vision in 1820. Two personages, whom he later identified as G-d the Father and Jesus, appeared and revealed to him that all existing churches were counterfeit. In 1823, Smith was visited again, this time by the angel “Moroni,” who informed him of the existence of “golden plates”
The Unification Church, popularly known as “the Moonies,” also began with one man’s revelation. On Easter morning, 1936, Jesus came to sixteen-year old Sun Myung Moon and told him to proclaim himself the new Messiah. In 1980 the Church reported over 120 centers worldwide
Again let me detail Christian apologist’s statements on the subject I shall comment in bold.
Comparative literature demonstrates that myth takes a number of generations to develop. There are no parallels in other literature of myth developing and being believed in the presence of eye-witnesses and within the short timeframe in which the New Testament was formed. I would agree. Legends rarely develop while multiple eyewitnesses are alive to refute them. the resurrection news spread too soon and too quickly for it to have been a legend. Legends develop by oral tradition and don’t come with contemporary historical documents that can be verified. Yet the Gospels were written within three decades of the resurrection.
Historical research is on the side of an immediate belief in Jesus’ resurrection. An early apostle’s creed includes the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-9) and has been dated by many scholars to within 3 to 7 years of Christ’s death and resurrection. This implies prior public belief. Scholars agree that the first letters by St. Paul appeared within 25 years or less of Jesus ministry, and the four Gospels within 21 (and no later than 65 years). The preaching of the apostles always centered on the Resurrection. In a very short period of time, devout Jews throughout the Roman Empire who had formerly faithfully worshiped God on the seventh day of each week, converted to Christianity and began meeting on the first day, in celebration of Christ’s resurrection. It would take jus one mans erroneous statement on any Resurrection to start a snowball of belief. I have already shown that religions can start in a cave, from dreams, and individual teachings. This leaning on all these witnesses and Gospel narratives pertaining to giant stones covering tombs and Paul’s own twisted truths are not sufficient to prove any resurrection.
To answer many of the Christian apologists who have their own opinions on Jesus please read the following statements. I shall give my own opinion on bold text.
Professor Thomas Arnold, for 14 years a headmaster of Rugby, author of the famous, History of Rome, and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. This great scholar said: “I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God hath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.” When a historian is weighed down with a particular faith he is no longer an historian. History is their to be unearthed an one should be un-biased as to what he or she discovers. The Gospels are geographically correct, and if they were stripped of their supernatural additives would serve as pretty decent historical data even though many of the characters cannot be verified with any degree of certainty.
Josh McDowell puts this well: “Jesus Apostles/ followers could not have faced torture and death unless they were convinced of His resurrection. The unanimity of their message and course of conduct was amazing…if they were deceivers, it’s hard to explain why one of them didn’t break down under pressure.” After witnessing events such as Watergate, can we reasonably suppose that the disciples could have totally covered up such a lie? What they believed and what occurred are two different things Many men have died for a cause that has not been what it seems. They may of been convinced of his resurrection but at the same time so are millions of Christians today who base their lives onthese events. We must remember the Christian church fathers of these ancient times vehemently destroyed, persecuted and hunted down any Gnostic or deviant teaching of Jesus. Theirs was the only doctrine and there was no room for an personal adaptations. To suggest these apostles died in such exemplary ways for the faith could be pure fabrication is not beyond the fallibility of the fledgling Church. There have been many a vile misrepresentation to the facts concerning the creaking corrupt Roman Church.
Josh McDowell also writes, “The Church was founded on the resurrection, and disproving it would have destroyed the whole Christian movement. However, instead of any such disproof, through the 1st century, Christians were threatened, beaten, flogged and killed because of their faith.” It would have been much simpler to silence Christianity by putting forth evidence disproving the resurrection, but this could not be done. Like Islam, the spread of religious conviction is an experience that transcends proof. Why would the Christians wish to disprove their own cult? They endured persecution, but so have many early religious movements.
Christians ironically and hypocritically persecuted the Jews, and many Gnostic sects such as the Cathars, the Bogomils, and The Waldensians
And its Inquisition is the greatest instrument of Christian cruelty one could muster.
Brooke Foss Westcott, an English scholar, said: “raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it.” The trouble is the separation of fact from Fiction. The humanity of the character and his supposedly supernatural activities.
John A.T. Robinson argues that, given its silence on the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the New Testament must have been written prior to that date. For since the demise of the Temple in Jerusalem would have fueled Christian preaching that Jesus had replaced the Temple sacrificial system (John 1:29, Hebrews 10:11f), the New Testament would certainly have referred to its destruction as a past event, and distinguished it from the end of the world (Luke 21:25-28), had it already happened. [John A.T. Robinson, Redating the New Testament (SCM Press, 1976).] Utter rubbish. The Christian need to separate its growth from the Jews would have necessitated a total silence on the Temples destruction. The Christians would have been overjoyed with this removal of the one edifice that anchors Jesus to his original Judaic teachings. The non-Jewish strain of the Jesus Cult was in Rome and had no wish to be looked upon as a Jewish sect. This is how the Christian movement survived in its Roman motherland. Jerusalem would never again be part of the movement’s requirements
Professor of philosophy Dr. G.R. Habermas in his Ancient Evidence for the Life of Jesus writes: “Our study [of the extra-biblical sources] has shown that Jesus taught in Palestine and was crucified and buried in Jerusalem under Pontius Pilate. These sources assert that Christianity had its beginnings in the same location.” Christ’s apostles did not go to some obscure place to begin preaching about His resurrection, but instead went back to the city of Jerusalem, the very place of Jesus’ execution and grave. If what the apostles were preaching had been false, it would have been evident to the people in Jerusalem and Christianity more than likely would not have begun.
And here is another proof of divinity Christians aspire to, But the most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. We must ask ourselves: What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ? Had there been any visible benefits accrued to them from their efforts–prestige, wealth, increased social status or material benefits–we might logically attempt to account for their actions, for their whole-hearted and total allegiance to this “risen Christ .”As a reward for their efforts, however, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking. So are the adherents of all religions. This does not mean Christianity is any different. And here we are with this Christian necessity to prove with biblical facts the authenticity of their faith.
Here’s a good one from some Christian “There is only one crucifixion that matters. I know that Christ did not take the opportunity to renounce his claims. I know that he willingly offered himself in my place and that He paid the price that I owed. You and I both must have faith to believe what we do, the difference is my faith leads to hope, peace, acceptance, grace, love and a happy ending. Where does your “faith” leave you at your end?” Now this is a typical indoctrinated third world persons view. The statement reeks of that one dimensional preaching seminar.
Or how about this gem, “If you do not believe that the apostles died for their faith, then you must believe that they, and every Christian there after who have died have died for a lie.”| That statement oozes sarcasm towards any atheist or skeptic within ears distance. And yes every Christian has died for a lie, but I suppose we all gotta die for something, dont ya think?
A final thought ; To end this chapter I thought it would be of interest to see how the followers of Jesus met their ends. This is a Christian defense against the Resurrection doubters, as why would a man die for something that was not real? So the Resurrection must have happened in their distorted view of the facts.
Before we see these Christian twists on the facts [meaning these men probably died of natural causes] here are some ways men die for a cause that they thought was noble, but was in fact a lie. We see people blowing themselves up all the time these days. They have their reasons, but does it make them right? Is it for a conviction to God or just a medium for a violent man to play out his violent intent? As for the apostles here is how they reputedly met their ends
Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound. Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt, dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
Luke was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
John was boiled in a huge basin of boiling oil during a wave of persecution in Rome. However, he was miraculously delivered from death. John was then sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos where he wrote his prophetic Book of Revelation. The Apostle John was later freed and returned to serve as a bishop in modern Turkey. He died an old man, the only Apostle to die peacefully.
Peter, was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross, according to Church tradition, because he told his tormentors that he felt unworthy to die the same way that Jesus Christ had died.
James the Just, the leader of the Church in Jerusalem and brother of Jesus, was thrown down more than a hundred feet from the southeast pinnacle of the Temple when he refused to deny his faith in Christ. When they discovered that he survived the fall, his enemies beat James to death with a fuller’s club. This was the same pinnacle where Satan had taken Jesus during the Temptation.
James the Greater, a son of Zebedee, was a fisherman by trade when Jesus called him to a lifetime of ministry. As a strong leader of the Church, James was ultimately beheaded at Jerusalem. The Roman soldier who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael, was a missionary to Asia. He witnessed about our Lord in present day Turkey. He was whipped to death for his preaching in Armenia.
Thomas was speared and died on one of his missionary trips to establish the Church in India.
Jude, another brother of Jesus, was killed with arrows after refusing to deny his faith in Christ.
Matthias, the Apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot, was stoned and beheaded.
Barnabas, one of the group of seventy disciples, was stoned to death at Salonica.
Paul was tortured and then beheaded by the evil Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67. Paul endured a lengthy imprisonment which allowed him to write his many epistles to the Churches he had formed throughout the Roman Empire. These letters, which taught many of the foundational doctrines of Christianity, from a large portion of the New Testament.
The apostles died for what they believed maybe, but that does not mean the resurrection happened. It may have been their reason for death, but that is all it was. Men have died for less, and will die for far less in years to come. All you need is a conviction towards something so ingrained in your heat that death will seem far less a burden than betraying that belief.
Where textual evidence is lacking, tradition has obliged, and a wide variety of local legends sprang up in medieval times about the apostles’ journeys and eventual deaths. But most of these traditions are late, invented hundreds of years after the fact, and lack any basis in earlier evidence. They are simply stories, tall tales. Such popular myths provide no support whatsoever for modern Christian claims that the apostles were willingly martyred.
As we can see, information regarding the life and death of the apostles is extremely dubious and fragmentary. This fatally undermines the Christian claim that the apostles were martyred for their faith; there is simply no good evidence that would support such a claim. The gaping void in the historical record when it comes to these twelve men is certainly strange and unexpected under the assumptions of orthodoxy – how could the original twelve Christians, handpicked by Jesus himself, vanish so completely out of history so quickly? However, it does support the argument that early Christianity arose from a tissue of legends based on the exploits of an actual historical Jesus.